Time to Sell High: Juan Pierre?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IMay 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20:  Juan Pierre #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run for a 1-0 lead in front of Ramon Castro #11 of the New York Mets during the first inning at Dodger Stadium May 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

When Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for violating the substance abuse policy, many thought that the Dodgers offense would take a hit without the imposing slugger. There was seemingly no way that the Dodgers could replace Ramirez's power in the middle of the order or the impact his bat has on the rest of the Dodgers lineup, especially with the light hitting Juan Pierre taking over for Ramirez.

But to the surprise of many, Juan Pierre has been absolutely fantastic for the Dodgers in Ramirez's absence. In 97 ABs in May, Pierre is hitting .381 with 18 runs scored and 14 RBI. Simply put, Juan Pierre has been playing out of his mind and is one of the main reasons why the Dodgers still own a commanding lead in the NL West despite Manny's absence.

With all that said, what I'm about to say next is going to shock some of you:

The Dodgers should look into trading Juan Pierre.

You see, it's a backwards concept. Because Juan Pierre has been so good, now is the best time for the Dodgers to shop Pierre. There are several reasons for this.

1. The Contract

Despite his fantastic performance, Juan Pierre is signed through 2011 and will be owed $18.5 million after this season, a total that makes Dodger fans sick to their stomach. Even if Pierre continues to perform at this level, there will be no place for him to play consistently in the near future with Kemp, Ethier, and Manny (assuming he picks up his player option) roaming the outfield. Juan Pierre is nothing more than an expensive fourth outfielder on the Dodgers.

2. Eat the money!

Entering this season, there was not a team in the league that would have taken back all of Pierre's contract in a trade. The numbers were just too excessive. Make no mistake about it: this is probably still the case right now. If the Dodgers want to move Pierre they will have to eat some salary. But because of Pierre's performance over the past few weeks, the Dodgers likely will not have to eat as much of Pierre's contract.

3. The Future

It's all about financial flexibility, folks. If the Dodgers are able to move Pierre's contract, they will gain both payroll flexibility and roster flexibility. With Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf, and Orlando Hudson's contracts all coming off the books this winter, the Dodgers would have the ability to do a number of things with these funds:

a. re-sign players (Hudson, Wolf)

b. lock up young players

c. go after big free agent

To me, moving Pierre now would make the Dodgers more competitive in the future. I know it's difficult to trade away such a valuable piece to a contending team right now, but my logic is two fold:

1. Pierre's value will never be higher

2. Once Ramirez returns, Pierre's impact will be significantly mitigated

Admittedly, I doubt that the Dodgers will be able to move Pierre, but it'd be fascinating if Ned Colletti did decide to move Pierre.

(Note: Pierre has a limited no trade, which complicates things. But I bet if Pierre got the opportunity to start on a somewhat competitive team (Reds?), he would jump at the chance. Pierre does not want to be a fourth outfielder, which is his role with the Dodgers in the future.)

Eventually, Pierre will come back down to Earth. He is not this good of a player. Eventually, Manny Ramirez will return to the Dodgers and play everyday, which will force Pierre back to the bench. Once that happens, Pierre's value will be shot. A golden opportunity to try to move a seemingly immovable contract would have been wasted.

What's your thoughts on Pierre's contract? Can the Dodgers even move Pierre?


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